On Saturday, June 3rd, 2006, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz of Buckfield, Maine, released a clever video demonstrating the effects of dropping 500 Mentos mints into 101 two-liter bottles of Diet Coke. The video propelled the two soda pyro-technicians into stardom, as they performed their magic for David Letterman, Ellen DeGeneres, and were mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone Magazine, and the New York Times. The two men had become unlikely evangelists for two worldwide brands that they had no official affiliation with – yet.
The story illustrates how New Media is turning the world of traditional marketing upside down. Overnight, Coca Cola and Perfetti Van Melle lost control of their brands. On Friday June 2, 2006, brand managers at Coca Cola went to bed, assuming that they were in the soft drink business. Their counterparts at Perfetti Van Melle woke up on Saturday believing that they were in the candy business. Literally overnight, each company found itself thrust unwillingly into the entertainment business. It’s a lesson that every marketeer must learn in the age of New/Social Media: The only remaining control you over your brand is related to how you react to what others are saying about it.
Viral videos are like the month of March: They come in like a lion yet go out like a lamb. So what happened with this one? What affect did synchronized soda geysers have on these two international brands? Positive? Negative? No change? The great thing about New Media is that everything is measurable. From inside or outside your company, tools exist to track all sorts of things. I’ve found that the hardest part of measuring the effects of New Media is not the actual measurement, but agreeing on the interpretation of the results.
For example, let’s take a look at one of the outside-the-corporate-firewall tools at your disposal. Google Trends offers businesses a way to measure buzz, from two different angles: 1) It tracks what people are searching Google for and 2) it tracks what is found in Google News. Therefore, by typing your company’s name into the tool, a figure-of-merit is calculated that represents how many times people are searching for that term, or how many stories are being written about it.
So let’s perform a Google Trend analysis on “Diet Coke” (in blue) vs. “Mentos” (in red).
For the 125 weeks leading up to June 2006, the average Search Engine Index (SEI) score for “Diet Coke” was 0.74 compared with 0.48 for “Mentos.” One week after the initial release, as the story picked up even more steam, keyboards across the globe drove these SEI figures up 994% for “Diet Coke” and a whopping 3190% for “Mentos” — not because of anything the two international brands did on their own. Rather, because two New Englanders recorded themselves dropping candy mints into bottles of soda!
Both SEIs have finally settled back to an equilibrium point. Over the past 53 weeks, “Diet Coke” has averaged 0.80 (up slightly 7.7%), but surprisingly, “Mentos” is being typed into a Google search 129% more (1.02) than its pre-video score. Put another way, for the 125 weeks prior to the video’s release, the term “Diet Coke” was typed into the Google Search Engine 35% more than “Mentos.” Today, “Diet Coke” lags the search volume of “Mentos” by 27%.
Another way to look at the data is illustrated through the following table:
Two years later, the fun chemical reaction still holds substantial top-ten spots in both Google and Yahoo searches. And Eepybird.com isn’t the only site driving these results. A YouTube search for the term “Diet Coke and Mentos” yields 6870 videos. This story lives on as others record themselves performing similar feats.
Everything in business needs measurement and New Media is no exception. Many tools exist that can provide a glimpse of how the world is perceiving you. Individually they may not offer much insight. But together, by combining their measurements, you can piece together a very interesting picture.
So, what are you measuring?